Between the raging controversy over Rahul Gandhi’s citizenship and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s efforts to get the Congress on board, the government is still hoping to conduct substantive business in the upcoming Winter Session of Parliament.

In an interview with BusinessLine , Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said the Finance Minister’s parleys with the Congress leadership and “consistent efforts” to reach out to the Opposition were indicators of the government’s intent.

Denying that Subramanian Swamy’s allegations against Gandhi are a reflection of the government’s confrontationist approach, she said: “On the contrary, the government has consistently maintained that it wants to engage with the Opposition… Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has met Rahul Gandhi. I would quote that as a clearer instance of the government’s intent. Here is a senior leader reaching out to the leadership of the principal opposition party.

“Does it not tell you …about the kind of atmospherics that the government wants to create in the days preceding the Winter Session?”

Sitharaman seemed to suggest that the government believes in a more conciliatory approach. “Barring what individual MPs and party members have been saying, I wish the more considered approach of senior ministers is not overlooked,” she said.

The Minister was hopeful of a resolution to the GST impasse and maintained that the government will be “more than accommodating” of the Opposition’s suggestions, including those from the Congress. She termed the resignation of KM Mani, Chairman of the Empowered Committee on GST, a temporary setback to eventual passage of the Bill.

“The Finance Minister has been very keen and accommodating of all views. The Congress’ suggestions are welcome as are other parties’. Unfortunately, the empowered committee chairman KM Mani has had to resign for entirely non-GST reasons. Another chairman has to be appointed,” she said.

Interview on p10

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